Offshore Wind Energy: Europe and Asia Have It, and We Should Too | Conservation Law Foundation

Offshore Wind Energy: Europe and Asia Have It, and We Should Too

Ivy Frignoca

An offshore wind farm off the coast of the Netherlands. Image courtesy of Nuon @ flickr

As of June 2012, the world boasted 4,619 megawatts of installed offshore wind energy capacity, while the United States had none. President Obama and other national leaders like Susan Collins want to change that statistic. The public also increasingly supports clean renewable energy in the wake of frequent severe weather events like Hurricane Sandy caused by climate change.

The biggest barrier to developing offshore wind energy has been criticism of its cost compared to other forms of energy. But offshore wind technology is in its infancy; it must be tested and supported much like subsidies were provided for the testing and development of oil and gas exploration. A recent study by the Brattle Group contained two findings that I found interesting.

– First, the study estimates the total investment needed to develop a U.S. offshore wind industry and how that investment would affect the price of electricity. The study showed that offshore wind could cost less to develop than subsidies paid for coal, oil and gas over the last 50 years.

– Second, the study estimates that offshore wind would result in an average monthly-rate increase for American consumers ranging from 0.2 percent to 1.7 percent.

Considering the huge amount being added to our tax bills to finance natural disaster relief from increased hurricanes, tornadoes and other weather events caused by global warming, this modest increase in electric rates to switch to cleaner power is a no brainer.

Here in New England, we have several potential opportunities for offshore wind: Cape Wind in Massachusetts, DeepWater Wind projects in Rhode Island, and the Hywind Maine pilot project in Maine.

What do you think? Would you pay a little more for electricity tax to reduce our dependence on fuels that add to global warming?

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